It has been something, being called to serve as a bishop in this synod for the past eighteen years.
As I remember and process this moment in our life and mine, I am struck by the persistence of gratitude. I know it will take time to process this experience.
To serve as a bishop here has been something stunning, amazing, challenging, funny, full of losses, sad, hard, rewarding, full of joys, full of broken gifted people and a reminder of God’s amazing presence and grace day after day after day. It has been a great a great honor and privilege.
Thanks for being on the road with me as we sought to follow Jesus. Thanks to all the folks who have and currently serve as synod staff. Thanks to all the people who have and are serving on boards, committees, task forces and the synod council. Thanks to all the colleagues in synod and churchwide offices who coached, challenged, and encouraged me.
Now it is time to hand off this responsibility to a new bishop. I am confident that Bishop Dee Pederson, the remaining staff, and the new staff who will be called to this synod as a whole into the next and I trust even better chapter of its life. She has deeper history in this synod than I do. I trust God was in the process that called her. I trust that God’s Spirit will walk with her into this next chapter and all of you.
I don’t remember who told me. I think it was our former bishop Chuck Anderson. “Did you know that when the synod office was a Tersteeg’s Grocery store, back in time, that the bishop’s desk sits in the pickle section?” It always cracks me up when I think about it. Whenever I would forget who this synod’s is, I would soon be in the pickle section of many kinds.
In my daily Bible reading, reflection and prayer it was powerful on Monday when this lesson showed up in the 12th Chapter of Romans. I will use Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase to help you hear it afresh. If you are short of time read the highlighted section, but the whole chapter is powerful.
12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
3 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
4-6 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
6-8 If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
I recently was at Our Redeemer’s of Benson. I was thankful for this beautiful piece of art that hangs near their sanctuary door and proclaims the Good News we know in Christ Jesus and the cross. This piece by Russell Glenn Aldrich, a son of their congregation, is a reminder of God’s great promises for us in the hardest of times and in the best of time. God has claimed and calls into God’s preferred and promised future. I can’t wait to see how God calls you all forward in the days to come.+Bishop Jon V. Anderson
The synod staff had a time of prayer, scripture, and a blessing for Bp. Jon Anderson and Pr. Kathryn Skoglund on their last day in the office. We invited people to join by Zoom. Click here to watch the recording. Access Passcode: Synod3F#